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Dallas area families can get help in Judge Rhonda Hunter's Specialty Court designed to keep families strong, healthy and together.

Dallas Family “Specialty Court” Makes a Difference 

Children are awakened in the middle of the night and told to gather their belongings and go with a stranger who has appeared at their home. They may be questioned by this person before or after they are led away from their family.

They may have experienced trauma before they are removed from this home environment that they know. This scene has taken place across our state and is often how many children are introduced to the child welfare system.

As we acknowledge Child Abuse Prevention Month, what are we doing to help local children who end up in the court system? 

One exceptional solution is the Specialty Court created by Family Court Judge Rhonda Hunter. The Court assists children and individuals in child abuse and neglect cases involving Child Protective Services (The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)). 

The Court focuses on families that are at high risk for permanent removal of children from their homes and seeks to connect these families with resources in the community that will allow families to reunite and stay together in a healthy and safe way. “I have worked for over 30 years with families involved in the child welfare system and that experience led me to develop this idea which as a judge, I had the ability to implement. I knew there were more innovative ways we could help our families who end up in the justice system,” says Judge Hunter. 

When is Specialty Court Referred? 

If a case in Judge Hunter’s court involves child abuse or neglect it may be referred to the Specialty Court if the child, parent, guardian, caregiver, or custodian is at high-risk for one of several issues. The court has worked to help children with severe educational deficiencies often viewed by institutions as having disruptive behavioral issues.

“Some parents have mental health challenges or physical medical issues that affect their ability to parent,”{ Judge Hunter says. “The court is designed to assist with frequent monitoring and resource referral in a trauma informed setting to reduce the risk.” Risk factors that the court considers in admission include juvenile delinquency court issues; illiteracy; homelessness; runaway history; substance abuse including alcohol and drug dependency; human trafficking victimization; chronic unemployment and physical health challenges.”

Two associate judges, Jean Lee and Delia Gonzales handle the day-to-day operations while Judge Hunter handles admission, monitoring, reporting and oversight. “I started this court docket last year shortly after I was appointed as a judge. We started the court with no financial resources, but that did not stop us from garnering successful outcomes,” said Judge Hunter. 

Hunter says that locating community resources from business, secular and religious communities is on-going and is a way citizens and groups can help in childcare prevention. Judge Hunter says, “There are so many resources in Dallas County, but the community does not always know about the resources available or how to access them. If we could connect resources with families, I truly believe that we can prevent families from finding themselves with a caseworker at their door. Until that happens, the Specialty Court docket for High-Risk Individuals and Children will be here to make those connections when we can.” 

 


Have a question for Judge Rhonda Hunter? judgerhondahunter@gmail.com

Court Staff:
Associate Judge: Jean Lee
Court Coordinator: Michele Morneault
email: mmorneault@dallascounty.org
Court Reporter:  Donna Kindle - (214) 653-7727
Chief Clerk: Lead Clerk - (214) 653-7611

Mailing Address:
303rd District Court
George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building
600 Commerce Street
Dallas, TX 75202

 

Judy Porter, MBA write stories about local heroes and programs in the DFW area. contact her at: judy-poter@sbcglobal.net

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Certified Life Coach Christine O'Brien Horstman has published a book about dealing with life's difficulties. You can meet her at the Book Launch Sunday, March 6 from 1:00 to 3 pm at Waxspace on S. Polk Street.

What would you do to meet Sting?

Oak Cliff resident Christine Horstman has led a pretty colorful life for a computer geek and librarian.

My sister and I met Sting once which was awesome. I entered each of us in a contest at Sound Warehouse - that’s how old I am, LOL - and she won! We flew to Madrid to go to his concert and had a meet and greet.”

The bubbly blonde admits, “People usually laugh when they hear I was both a computer programmer and a reference librarian. I am very talkative and a people person so that tends to surprise them. While short-lived, I got a lot out of each experience.”

She met her husband of 22 years, Doug, when they both grew up in Lake Highlands. “We’ve known each other since I was 16. He, my sister, and her husband have been best friends since high school.” Doug works for Targetbase, a marketing agency, in Irving.

Although her life sounds charmed, she had a big scare 16 years ago.

Deal with It, Doll!

“I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when my son was 18 months old. It was rough and it took a lot of support from my family and friends, especially my sister who helped care for my son.”

Since then, her health has been up and down. “I live with multiple chronic illnesses so there’s been a lot of challenging times.”

This led her to her current status – published author. She just finished writing a book called, Deal with It, Doll!: Coaching Yourself through Crisis.Writing and journaling help me cope in general and I hope the lessons I’ve learned working as a coach and living with chronic illness will help others get through their toughest time.”

Life and Work

Born in Connecticut, her family moved to Freehold, New Jersey - where Bruce Springsteen is from - when she was seven, then moved to Dallas when she was 12. “I went to Ursuline and Lake Highlands. I was on the drill team at UA and played volleyball at both UA and LHHS.”

Christine graduated from Boston College with a major in Political Science and a minor in Women’s Studies, where she was active in the Residence Hall Association and was a member of the Golden Eagle’s dance team. Her favorite part of college was studying abroad in Barcelona.

Her family-owned Papyrus, a stationary store, in NorthPark Mall for many years, so when she first came home from college, she went into the family business and helped her mom and sister at the shop.

Her first “real” job was as a Programmer Analyst for the City of Dallas. ”The economy was terrible and there were hiring freezes at all levels of government. I wanted to work in municipal government and had previously interned for the Department of Economic Development. I was hoping to get my foot in the door at the City. I had to reprogram the payroll system which was terrifying.”

Eventually she moved on to creating her own company, Paper Doll Communication.

“I started first as a small business consultant. I still do a lot of corporate trainings and work as a professional development instructor, but most of my private clients are one-on-one coaching clients. I realized using my managerial background helping individuals with their career and personal development was a better fit for my own work/life balance, and I find it more rewarding.”

The best thing about working in her business? “Hands down it’s helping others and seeing their confidence grow. Because I focus on communication, emotional intelligence, and soft skills, I am constantly learning and growing, too.” She is a Certified Professional Coach, Certified Career Coach, and an Accredited DISC Trainer, a theory that helps better understand human behavior.

Some folks might recognize her from the successful professional development series she created - she was a frequent presenter for the Dallas Public Library's "Ask a Career Coach Series.

Community

When Christine isn’t working to help people grow their soft skills and business, she enjoys volunteering. She’s serves on the Advancement Committee and as the president for the newly formed Parents’ Association for Bishop Dunne High School where her son is a junior. Last year she was on the Circle of Friends board for New Friends, New Life, a nonprofit with a mission to help formerly trafficked women and girls rebuild their lives. She’s still an active supporter of the agency.

And she started the Oak Cliff chapter of Young Men’s Service League to instill the importance of service in her son, “And to have an activity we could do together. It’s been such a fun thing to do with other mothers and sons. I have met and reconnected with a lot of great women in starting the chapter. It’s been bright spot during the pandemic.” She’s also on the Arthritis Foundation of North Texas’ Jingle Bell Run committee.

And when she’s not working or volunteering, she admits to running around the neighborhood out of necessity: “We have a Labrador Houdini. Our yellow lab/golden retriever mix, Woodrow, is an escape artist. When our house was under construction, we were living in a hotel, and he got us kicked out.” Woodrow keeps her paying attention to her surroundings – making sure he’s where he should be, safe at home.

Overcoming the Pandemic

Her book, she says, is a timely resource to help people grow through change and deal with life’s many curveballs with resilience, confidence, and hope.

We could not have imagined with our clever ‘2020 vision’ slogans at the start of the new year that we would get a collective punch to the gut come spring.” She says, “You may be going along swimmingly in life and out of nowhere face your own crisis. You may have already had more challenges than seem fair for one person to endure. Whether you are still trying to process the pandemic or dealing with a crisis of your own creation, Deal with It, Doll! will leave you feeling less alone and so much stronger.”

Our collective health crisis inspired her book, but it’s written for the typical curveballs of life.

“It was written for the stuff many of us face personally and professionally in any given year. The changes most of us will deal with in our lifetimes: parenting, careers, finances. Handling failures and fractures and managing our relationships. Health problems. All of it.”

Christine says that through each new phase in life, we have the opportunity to grow through change. “When the literal and figurative masks come off, who are you, Doll? Who do you want to be and how are you going to make the most of your life, especially when things aren’t going your way? Your struggles, your shifts, your changes, and your challenges are creating the next version of your life in ways that may not yet make sense. Do not despair. Life is ever changing and full of twists and turns. Stop stressing and start dealing with it.”

The Way Forward

She says, “As a life and career coach most of my skills feed what I do.”

She also tries new things, to keep learning. Last year she had a poem published, “The Long Haul,” which helped her process her experience with COVID. It was included in the Writer’s Garret 2021 anthology.

And she’s recently started painting. “I hadn’t taken an art class since my required elective freshman year in high school. Turns out I’m not awful.”

Positive self-talk, from the Life Coach herself!

Want to learn more? Meet Christine at her book signing coming up IN:

Wind Down Wednesday | Whose Books, Neighborhood Bookstore (square.site)

Christine Horstman      

tel.  214.226.3075 

Paper Doll Communication 

Certified Career Coach

Certified Professional Coach 

 

Judy Porter, MBA, writes stories about local heroes and nonprofits in the DFW community. Contact her at judy-porter@sbcglobal.net

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Sajida Ahmed collects over 400 toys each year for the Annual Day of Dignity to give to underprivileged children in the Martin Luther King Recreation Center neighborhood near downtown Dallas.

A Mind for Business and a Heart for the Homeless:

Sajida Ahmed is Making a Difference

 

While doctors take care of the many seriously ill patients that come through their private practices due to the Coronavirus, who is taking care of the doctors?

 

Sajida Ahmed understands that doctors are overwhelmed and beginning to quit private practice in large numbers, siting both physical and mental fatigue. Many in private practice can’t keep up with their workload and the paperwork that accompanies it: Insurance, patient medical records, billing, HIPAA requirements.

 

But Sajida Ahmed is the “Finance Doctor,” there to help overworked and exhausted doctors to keep doing what they do best: heal sick patients.

 

Her specialty is medical billing and AR, and she has been able to recover thousands of dollars from AR (Accounts receivables) for cardiologists which they may have had to write off.

 

Strong and Self Reliant

 

Born in Kuwait, Sajida went to a boarding school at the age of seven to Murree, a city in a different country from where her parents lived. She says, “I learned self-reliance at a very early age.”

 

She completed high school at the age of fourteen in Kuwait. “I was a nerd as a kid, not involved in sports, was always at the top of my class. My parents thought since I was so smart, I should skip a few grades, so I skipped grade 2 and then skipped grade 7, that’s how I was the youngest person in my graduating class.”

 

Sajida went to college in Rawalpindi, Pakistan and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics & statistics. She finished at the top of her class and received a silver medal for being at the top in a college of three thousand students. While in college she played volleyball and acted on stage in a few plays.

 

After college she went to Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan and got a master’s in Computer Science. She remembers, “At the time computer science was a very new field and there were very few girls. I was the only girl in my class and one of three girls in the entire department of Computer Science.”

 

She loved to hike and walk for hours around campus and the city. She completed her degree in June, got married in July and five days later moved to the USA to go to school at Iowa State University. There she earned a master’s degree in Computer Science from Iowa State University while working 20 hours a week as a teaching assistant.

 

She’s worked in three countries and six states. “My first job was in Iowa, then we moved to New Jersey, after that I worked in Rockford, Illinois, then Madison Wisconsin.”

 

She says, “The first time I became a manager, I found it fascinating that here I was a brown woman managing 10 white men.” She and her husband moved to Texas and worked for Textron the parent company of Bell Helicopter and Cessna Airplanes and worked for Raytheon in McKinney. The couple moved to California where Sajida worked for eBay and PayPal in the Bay Area in California before they decided to move back to Texas.

 

Helping Doctors Avoid Burn out

 

Having worked in corporate America in the tech industry for 25 years, Sajida’s last job was as a consultant for eBay and PayPal, where she was managing 1200 people in four continents and working 18 hours a day. She decided to quit and work for herself.

 

Seeing her sister, a physician, at the brink of burnout, she made it her mission to help doctors in private practice achieve a work/life balance while managing a very profitable practice.

 

The pandemic has made her work crucial to the many doctors she works with.

 

Three years ago, she started her business, S2N2 Medical Business Solutions. Her passion is to help private medical practices thrive. She says proudly, “I have very good relationships with my client doctors.” Her goal is simple: to inspire people to do their best and help medical practices be more efficient and profitable.

 

Sajida is the Finance Doctor. She explains: “I specialize in the financial health of my doctors and improving practice workflow efficiency; from front desk operations to coding recommendations, to billing, to patient statements and collections.” Her business management expertise helps to maximize revenue for private medical practices allowing doctors to do what they do best: heal others.

 

The name of her business comes from her family’s favorite movie series.  “We as a family are huge fans of ‘Star Wars,’ so the name is inspired from R2D2 in Star Wars. Both my husband, Sohail, and I have names that start with “S,” and both our children’s names start with “N,” so the business is S2N2 Medical Business Solutions.”

 

Sajida says, “I love helping people. Having my own business gives me the flexibility to work on my own time.” Even so, her hours tend to be long: most days she’s at work by 8 a.m. and sometimes doesn’t finish until 8 p.m.

Helping the Homeless

She credits her father with her strong work ethic and passion for helping those in need. “I inherited the passion of helping people in need from my father.” Sajida explains, “I find joy in serving the homeless, especially kids. The joy of seeing a smile on a child's face when we give them a new toy is priceless.”  She has committed to donating 10% of her business income to charity every year and has co-founded a non-profit organization to make this happen.

Community Outreach

Sajida has been helping the community by giving out grocery boxes to the elderly during COVID, donating to the Children's Advocacy Center, giving toys to children in underserved communities, donating to Texas Food Banks, supplying a Thanksgiving meal to families staying at the Ronald McDonald house and giving clothes to the homeless.

She is also on the board of a non-profit that builds schools in remote areas where there is no internet, no schools and sometimes no electricity.

Once a year she is an integral part of the “Day of Dignity” at the Martin Luther King Center in Dallas.  “We bring people from six homeless shelters to the MLK Center to give them clothes, undershirts, socks, hygiene kits etc.”

She has been giving 10% of her business income to charity and is very heavily involved in philanthropic work. Sajida does one project a month with the homeless or food bank or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Her project for December 2021 was providing a holiday meal to Promise House, a homeless shelter for teens and children in Dallas, feeding twenty-five kids and ten staff members. She also gave out $35 gift cards to each of the seven teen moms at the shelter and toys to the teen moms’ babies.

 

A hard working, determined to “Do Good” woman, she says she would love to meet Oprah Winfrey one day – another woman who is known for building schools and fulfilling dreams.

 

Family Life

 

Married to her childhood sweetheart, Sohail Ahmed, Sajida says, “We met when I was 15, and we have been together since.” He is an architect and has his own architectural company in Fort Worth. The couple have a son who lives in Wisconsin with his wife and daughter and a daughter who lives in California.

 

Blessed with two healthy grown children and, “The love of my life, my adorable granddaughter, Nora,” Sajida is generous with others whenever she can help.

 

She loves to travel and that’s a good thing, since she’s never lived in a state or country for more than eight years. She’s moved seventeen times since being married and since moving to America, has lived in New Jersey, California, Iowa, Illinois and Texas. Her personal goal is to see all the “Wonders of the World.” So far, she’s seen the pyramids of Egypt, Niagara Falls, Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, and The Coliseum in Rome.

 

Overcoming Challenges

 

She also loves challenges. She remembers, “In the third year of college, I decided I wanted to major in mathematics, I studied the entire course work of two years during the summer holidays. My professor thought I was nuts and would never be able to graduate in four years, but I not only proved her wrong, but I was also at the top of my class.”

 

Life has been difficult at times. “Going to graduate school full time, with a

2-month-old baby, while working 20 hours a week and completing my dissertation, all the while applying for a full-time job - it was the toughest time of my life.” But – she survived – and now thrives. “That experience taught me that there are 24 hours in a day, and I have to make the best use of each hour.”

 

She knows she is driven. “I am a very hard worker; I have two businesses and I work seven days a week.” But she finds time to do philanthropic work and still have fun. “I like to go out, watch movies, attend parties and I love to travel.  I still have time left over, so I think to myself, why am I wasting time? What else should I do?”

 

Need to help a doctor? Or a bit of inspiration? Contact Sajida Ahmed, CEO

(682) 273-0386

(650) 450-6531

https://bit.ly/SajidaAhmed

www.s2n2solutions.com

 Judy Porter, MBA writes about local heroes in the DFW Metroplex.

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Proud grandmother Sajida Ahmed (in gold) often works long hours helping doctors so they can do what they do best: heal sick patients. A cruise to Cozumel with family in 2019 was one break she took before Covid slowed travel. Her family includes (L-R) Nabeel, Anne, Nora, Nadia, Sajida and her husband Sohail.

A Mind for Business and a Heart for the Homeless:

Sajida Ahmed is Making a Difference 

 

While doctors take care of the many seriously ill patients that come through their private practices due to the Coronavirus, who is taking care of the doctors?

 

Sajida Ahmed understands that doctors are overwhelmed and are beginning to quit private practice in large numbers, due to both physical and mental fatigue. Many in private practice can’t keep up with their workload and the enormous paperwork that accompanies it: Insurance, patient medical records, billing, HIPPA requirements.

 

But Sajida Ahmed is the “Finance Doctor,” there to help overworked and exhausted doctors to keep doing what they do best: heal sick patients.

 

Her specialty is medical billing and Accounts Receivables, and she has been able to recover thousands of dollars from AR for cardiologists which they may have had to write off. Her work behind the scenes makes them more efficient - and can save lives.

 

Strong and Self Reliant

 

Born in Kuwait, Sajida went to a boarding school at the age of seven to Murree, a city in a different country from where her parents lived. She says, “I learned self-reliance at a very early age.”

 

She completed high school at the age of fourteen in Kuwait. “I was a nerd as a kid, not involved in sports, was always at the top of my class. My parents thought since I was so smart, I should skip a few grades, so I skipped grade 2 and then skipped grade 7, that’s how I was the youngest person in my graduating class.”

 

Sajida went to college in Rawalpindi, Pakistan and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics & statistics. She finished at the top of her class and received a silver medal for being at the top in a college of three thousand students. While in college she played volleyball and acted on stage in a few plays.

 

After college she went to Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan and got a master’s in Computer Science. She remembers, “At the time computer science was a very new field and there were very few girls. I was the only girl in my class and one of three girls in the entire department of Computer Science.”

 

She loved to hike and walk for hours around campus and the city. She completed her degree in June, got married in July and five days later moved to America to go to school at Iowa State University. There she earned a master’s degree in Computer Science from Iowa State University while working 20 hours a week as a teaching assistant.

 

She was pregnant in her second year of her masters’ studies and had her son during grad school while completing her degree. With no internet at the time, she had to go to the department computer room to complete my assignments. “I would take my baby with me so I could breast feed him and take care of him while completing my assignments.” Sometimes she would be there till 3 a.m.

 

Right after she completed her dissertation, Sajida worked for Pioneer Hi-Bred company in Des Moines Iowa, returning to her college campus for her graduation ceremony after she had been working for five months.

 

Now she’s worked in three countries and six states. “My first job was in Iowa, then we moved to New Jersey, after that I worked in Rockford, Illinois, then Madison Wisconsin.”

 

She says, “The first time I became a manager, I found it fascinating that here I was a brown woman managing 10 white men.” She and her husband moved to Texas and worked for Textron the parent company of Bell Helicopter and Cessna Airplanes and worked for Raytheon in McKinney. The couple moved to California where Sajida worked for eBay and PayPal in the Bay Area in California before they decided to move back to Texas.

 

Helping Doctors Avoid Burn out

 

Having worked in corporate America in the tech industry for 25 years, Sajida’s last job was as a consultant for eBay and PayPal, where she was managing 1200 people in four continents and working 18 hours a day. She decided to quit and work for herself.

 

Seeing her sister, a physician, at the brink of burnout, she made it her mission to help doctors in private practice achieve a work/life balance while managing a very profitable practice.

 

The pandemic has made her work crucial to the many doctors she works with.

 

Three years ago, she started her business, S2N2 Medical Business Solutions. Her passion is to help private medical practices thrive. She says proudly, “I have very good relationships with my client doctors.” Her goal is simple: to inspire people to do their best and help medical practices be more efficient and profitable.

 

Sajida is the Finance Doctor. She explains: “I specialize in the financial health of my doctors and improving practice workflow efficiency; from front desk operations to coding recommendations, to billing, to patient statements and collections.” Her business management expertise helps to maximize revenue for private medical practices allowing doctors to do what they do best: heal others.

 

The name of her business comes from her family’s favorite movie series.  “We as a family are huge fans of ‘Star Wars,’ so the name is inspired from R2D2 in Star Wars. Both my husband, Sohail, and I have names that start with “S,” and both our children’s names start with “N,” so the business is S2N2 Medical Business Solutions.”

 

Sajida says, “I love helping people. Having my own business gives me the flexibility to work on my own time.” Even so, her hours tend to be long: most days she’s at work by 8 a.m. and sometimes doesn’t finish until 8 p.m.

Helping the Homeless

She credits her father with her strong work ethic and passion for helping those in need. “I inherited the passion of helping people in need from my father.” Sajida explains, “I find joy in serving the homeless, especially kids. The joy of seeing a smile on a child's face when we give them a new toy is priceless.”  She has committed to donating 10% of her business income to charity every year and has co-founded a non-profit organization to make this happen.

Community Outreach

Sajida has been helping the community by giving out grocery boxes to the elderly during COVID, donating to the Children's Advocacy Center, giving toys to children in underserved communities, donating to Texas Food Banks, supplying a Thanksgiving meal to families staying at the Ronald McDonald house and giving clothes to the homeless.

She is also on the board of a non-profit that builds schools in remote areas where there is no internet, no schools and sometimes no electricity.

Once a year she is an integral part of the “Day of Dignity” at the Martin Luther King Center in Dallas.  “We bring people from six homeless shelters to the MLK  Center to give them clothes, undershirts, socks, hygiene kits etc.”

She has been giving 10% of her business income to charity and is very heavily involved in philanthropic work. Sajida does one project a month with the homeless or food bank or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Her project for December 2021 was providing a holiday meal to Promise House, a homeless shelter for teens and children in Dallas, feeding twenty-five kids and ten staff members. She also gave out $35 gift cards to each of the seven teen moms at the shelter and toys to the teen moms’ babies.

 

A hard working, determined to “Do Good” woman, she says she would love to meet Oprah Winfrey one day – another woman who is known for building schools and fulfilling dreams.

 

Family Life

Married to her childhood sweetheart, Sohail Ahmed, Sajida says, “We met when I was 15, and we have been together since.” He is an architect and has his own architectural company in Fort Worth. The couple have a son who lives in Wisconsin with his wife and daughter and a daughter who lives in California.

 

Blessed with two healthy grown children and, “The love of my life, my adorable granddaughter, Nora,” Sajida is generous with others whenever she can help.

 

She loves to travel and that’s a good thing, since she’s never lived in a state or country for more than eight years. She’s moved seventeen times since being married and since moving to America, has lived in New Jersey, California, Iowa, Illinois and Texas. Her personal goal is to see all the “Wonders of the World.” So far, she’s seen the pyramids of Egypt, Niagara Falls, Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, and The Coliseum in Rome.

 

“I love to inspire people,” she says, “Everywhere I go people tell me they love reading my posts on social media and feel very good after reading them. Several of my Facebook Friends tell me they copy my posts and read them several times during the day.”

 

Overcoming Challenges

 

She also loves challenges. She remembers, “In the third year of college, I decided I wanted to major in mathematics, I studied the entire course work of two years during the summer holidays. My professor thought I was nuts and would never be able to graduate in four years, but I not only proved her wrong, but I was also at the top of my class.”

 

Life has been difficult at times. “Going to graduate school full time, with a

2-month-old baby, while working 20 hours a week and completing my dissertation, all the while applying for a full-time job on a student visa, trying to convince the companies I wanted to work for to apply for my green card - it was the toughest time of my life.” But – she survived – and now thrives. “That experience taught me that there are 24 hours in a day, and I have to make the best use of each hour.”

 

She knows she is driven. “I am a very hard worker; I have two businesses and I work seven days a week.” But she finds time to do philanthropic work and still have fun. “I like to go out, watch movies, attend parties and I love to travel.  I still have time left over, so I think to myself, why am I wasting time? What else should I do?”

 

Need to help a doctor? Or a bit of inspiration? Contact Sajida Ahmed, CEO

(682) 273-0386  or (650) 450-6531

https://bit.ly/SajidaAhmed 

www.s2n2solutions.com

 

Photo 1: Sajida Ahmed looks more like a Hollywood star than a grandmother with two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. who helps doctors avoid burn-out. A member of Oak Cliff Women in Business, she donates 10% of her business income to local charities every year and bought a holiday dinner this month for everyone staying at Promise House, a home for homeless teens.

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Vicky Gouge and friends volunteer for six months prior to the annual Dash for the Beads 5-k race, 10-K race, and mile long walk benefitting local children in area schools in Oak Cliff. Volunteers for Dash for the Beads 2022 are being sought NOW. Local businesses contribute and individuals make up the man-power necessary for a fun, positive family event.

Ready to Dash for A Good Cause? Volunteers for Dash for the Beads 2022 Sought NOW for February 2022.

When you see the “Dash for the Beads” in the press this year know that Oak Cliff resident Vicky Gouge is back volunteering in a big way to make it happen. 

The President at Full Moon Design Group, Inc. since April 2004, Vicky studied Art and Journalism at Texas State University and graduated in 1997. She moved from Houston to Dallas and has been a proud Oak Cliff resident for years.

Vicky got involved with the “Dash For the Beads” nearly a decade ago, in 2012, when her twin sister Becky Moffett told her about it. Nine years later and countless hours of volunteering, Vicky admits she does it because “I like the mission of the organization.”

Dash for the Beads is one of the largest Oak Cliff Community events with the sole focus of helping children. It’s a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that donates its proceeds to local area schools to help promote healthy eating and physical activity for grade school children. Local schools can apply for grants to encourage kids to stay in motion and learn about - and practice behavior - which leads to life-long health.

Since 2009, Dash for the Beads has sponsored an annual 10k and 5k run along with a 1-mile walk that coincides with Mardi Gras. Folks of all ages are invited to come out and “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” which is Cajun for: “Let the good times roll!”

Each year prizes are awarded for the best-dressed walker, best-dressed runner, best-dressed pet (that’s right, pet!) and a trophy for the winner of the chip-timed 10k and 5k events. “The fashions alone are a reason to come out to enjoy the event,” Vicky admits, “and benefiting the neighborhood schools is icing on the King Cake.”

The DASH initiative was created by “Cliff Dwellers” Chad West and David Sassano to raise money for Oak Cliff organizations. Hundreds of volunteers like Vicky keep it going.

When she’s not working full time as a Graphic Designer and Digital Marketer and volunteering for Dash for the Beads, Vicky and her twin sister Becky Moffett and their friend Summer Garrett work together to run Oak Cliff Women in Business (OCWIB.)

The monthly meetings of local Oak Cliff businesswomen are a chance to meet and support others who run their own companies. The meetings rotate to different sites, creating an effortless way to encourage members to visit each-other’s businesses.

Complimentary lite bites, wine, and bottled water is happily provided at the meetings. There are also door prize drawings at each OCWIB meeting. Business owners can offer to bring a prize worth a minimum of $30 which allows them to talk about their business to the group in a short 30-second “live” commercial. In addition, the Raffle Prize winners also get to explain their business to the group. Business owners - and women hoping to be business owners – are encouraged to come to meet local successful women with a wealth of knowledge who are happy to share it. Many of these women also volunteer with the Dash for the Beads event. 

The DASH event committee is always seeking sponsors, vendors, and volunteers. To get involved, or to host a future Oak Cliff Women in Business Meeting, contact Vicky Gouge at: gouge@fullmoondesigngroup.com 

Or see: https://dashforthebeads.org

For more information see The Oak Cliff Women in Business Facebook page.

Article Author Judy Porter, MBA, is a proud member of Oak Cliff Women in Business. judy-porter@sbcglobal.net or see her on Linked In: (68) Judith (Judy) Porter, MBA | LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After a long hard year, things are looking up for Kennedy Settimi: she's the Captain of her High School Golf Team, a dedicated volunteer and a black belt in karate. Now she's ready to go on to the next stage of her life: college.

Kennedy Irene Settimi is not your typical teenager: she's an excellent student, accomplished musician, outstanding athlete, and Black Belt in Karate.

Born and raised in Dallas, she lived in the Casa Linda neighborhood for the first two years of her life, and then grew up in the Lochwood neighborhood of east Dallas.

Because she has no brothers or sisters, she says, “I’m the star of my family!”

She certainly has accomplished enough for three people. In elementary school and middle school at Zion Lutheran, Kennedy played every sport offered: basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, track, and she took martial arts outside of school. She also played t-ball when she was younger, moved up to baseball until fourth grade, then softball for about a year after that. This year, as a high school senior at Bishop Lynch, she is a softball player and Captain of the Golf team.

One thing most people don’t know about her is the softball-sized cyst she had when she was just five years old. Surgery was required to find it and remove it, because, as she remembers, “We only discovered it after I had bad pains in my stomach and was throwing up profusely.” That awful time is a distant memory, and now Kennedy is a senior ready to head off into college this fall.

In addition to her classes and her sports, Kennedy completed over 100 hours of community service, volunteering with people of all ages: the elderly in the Dallas VA Medical Center running their Bingo games, assisting in Vacation Bible School for children at Bethel Lutheran Church, the Best Buddies Friendship Walk supporting inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and before COVID-19, she often volunteered at her mother’s school to help her and other teachers in their classrooms. Once she’s allowed to go back and help out, she’s ready.

Her parents met at a Lutheran Church Camp when they were about her age now, teenagers, and then reunited later in life. They have been married for 20 years. Her mother, Tracy, is a DISD Kindergarten teacher, and her father, Ron – after working in Human Resources for years - now at enjoys working with plants instead of people at Ruibal’s Nursery as Manager of Landscape and Design.

Kennedy’s home is full: she lives with her parents, her grandfather, and three adorable dogs: Harley, Truly, and Baby.

Now she’s preparing to continue her education and is interested in the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Colorado at Denver, and Stephen F. Austin University. Her Dream College is Texas A&M University. The school is “full of history and tradition,” and Kennedy wants to become a part of that. 

With her sports background, she thinking about a major that includes sports, or possibly work in another arena that requires athletic skills, like the Fire Department. 

Her goal is simple, “To find a job that doesn’t feel like a job, because I enjoy it so much!” 

One memory she enjoys is her “meet and greet” with with Vanilla Ice, the rapper who was also born in Dallas. Kennedy would like one day to meet Miley Cyrus, another strong young woman like her, “because I love Hannah Montana and watched the show religiously when I was younger.”

Like so many, 2020 was a hard year for Kennedy. She says the toughest time of her life was in September of 2020, when her beloved aunt passed away. Kennedy says she’s still not over it, “but I try to find her in the little moments.” This positive outlook is one of the many strong personality traits she embodies.

Now she is looking forward to college, and in five years, getting into her career. Ten years from now, she hopes to have a family and enjoy her time at home. That is, when she’s not volunteering, playing sports, practicing Karate or making beautiful music on her trumpet - and in her life.

 

Judy Porter, MBA is a Lake Highlands resident and writer. Contact her at judy-porter@sbcglobal.net to tell YOUR story!

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Tennis Competitors of Dallas (TCD) 2021 President Magan Flynn and husband Will met in college and moved to Dallas in 2013 where Magan began playing tennis in TCD. The friendships she made on the court lead to her becoming a TCD Board member and now, President of the 7,000+ sports organization.

New Tennis Competitors of Dallas President Leads Ove 7,000 Local Tennis Players as New Season Begins

Most TCD Board members have served as flight directors - choosing which flight, or group, a team should compete in - before moving up to bigger board positions, but few have parachuted out of a plane. The 2021 fearless TCD Board President has.

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Magan Flynn attended Poudre High in Ft. Collins where she was editor of the school newspaper and ran the local chapter of the March of Dimes. Although she skied, she wasn’t into team sports. In fact, she didn’t even start playing tennis until 1997 where she learned the game from a pro in Farmington Hills, Michigan. 

Magan earned a business degree from University of Colorado, Boulder, where she played intramural volleyball. It’s also where she met her husband Will. “Our roommates introduced us at a college party in Boulder.” They’ve been married 36 years. The couple have three grown children: Andrew (31), Chris (29), Molly (29), and four grand dogs: Ginny, an Irish Doodle; Olive and Jelly, both Bernese Mountain Dogs; and Bananas, a Chow/Husky Mix “which visit us regularly.”

Magan’s first job out of college was as a “master scheduler" for Hewlett Packard – coordinating production between manufacturing and marketing. She ended up in Texas as many transplants do: her husband’s job brought them here in 2013.

“It was our tenth move and our first move without our children.  We were not planning on staying more than two years and I did not want to come at all,” she admits now. “If it were not for tennis--and the friendships we made through tennis--we would have been gone in two years.  Instead, my husband retired, and two out of our three children moved to Texas.”

Her involvement in TCD was a natural progression: “I wanted to give something back to TCD and when the opportunity to be on the Placement Committee presented itself, I jumped at it.  I was on the placement committee for a year and a half, then was the Placement Director last year.”

She also captains two teams: Ladies McKinney Midcourt Crisis (9A) and Mixed Stonebridge Ranch Overserved (4B).  And she’s the co-captain of her Love-50 Team, McKinney Matchmakers (3B).  She also plays Metro and USTA. Her leadership abilities made her an obvious choice for TCD Board President. And, by the way, she has a law degree from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, so she may be overqualified for the disputes that sometimes arise on and off the (tennis) courts.

Like many Texans, she’s met a famous player: John Newcombe, “at his tennis ranch in New Braunfels.”

Magan is happy to be a Texan now, having traveled around the world on a ship for 101 days when she was 19.  And she’s been a bit of a risk-taker for most of her life, including that parachute jump at age 20.

Back then, on a crazy whim, a parachute saved her. But since moving to Texas, it’s been more wins than whims, thanks to Tennis Competitors of Dallas.

 

Judy Eckenrode Porter, MBA is the TCD 2021 Communications Director. See the TCD Facebook Page for more information or contact her at Communications@TCDtennis.org. To learn more about the Tournament contact Beth Mahler at Tournaments@TCDtennis.org 

TCD will kick off the Spring season with a tennis tournament Thursday, Feb. 18, that will have over 1,000 players. This tournament may break the Guinness Book of World Records for participants in a single tournament. The tournament was full and had a waitlist in the first 24 hours. The stats include:

By the Numbers:

  • 1,172 ladies
  • 585 Teams – 1,172 members
  • 288 Cans of Tennis Balls
  • 238 Courts
  • 116 Flights
  • 57 Volunteer Site Coordinator
  • 25 Host Facilities

 

Host Facilities: 25 sites

CANYON CREEK CC

HACKBERRY

PRESTONWOOD

COURTS of MCKINNEY

HIGH POINT TC

ROCKWALL - RGAC

DAC

JCC

SAMUELL GRAND

EL DORADO CC

LAKEWOOD

SOUTHLAKE TC

FOUR SEASONS

LAS COLINAS CC

SPRING PARK

FRETZ

LB HOUSTON

STONEBRIAR CC

GLENEAGLES CC

OAK CREEK TC

STONEBRIDGE

GREENHILL

OASIS BEACH & TENNIS

TROPHY CLUB CC

 

 

WAGON WHEEL

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"EveryoneEatz" volunteers gather to pass out free food at a recent Dallas event. The non-profit says there is "No questions, no Judgments" for those who come for help. Begun with free pizza, the non-profit now offers Covid testing, PPE and other fresh food for those in Dallas County who need help.

"No Questions, No Judgements," says "EveryoneEatz" Founder Ram Mehta, serving the hungry throughout  the Dallas Metroplex at multiple events.

The pandemic has created chaos in our country, but Ram Mehta feels it as also offered us something special: “The best opportunity for our communities to come together.”

It was not by chance that Ram Mehta, owner of In-Fretta Pizza in Plano, saw an opportunity to help those in need.

Mehta came to New York from India as a 15-year-old tourist. The sights, sounds, and opportunities he saw lead him to make New York his new home.

But he didn’t lead a luxurious life, working 18 hours a day for a job that paid $3 an hour. Homeless and living in subways, he struggled to scrape together a living in the expensive city, and eventually moved to Texas seven years ago.

Mehta says he came for an IT job and the opportunities here, for the family atmosphere and safer community. Through hard work he became the owner of In-Fretta Pizza in Plano.

As the pandemic hit in March, Mehta saw the dire consequences of the economic fallout across the country in the news. He remembered his days of living on the streets and he was determined to help those who needed it most. 

“No questions. No judgments.” Ram would post these words on social media as he offered anyone hungry and in need a free pizza from his restaurant. As he served hundreds, he thought of an idea to expand his charitable outreach: EveryoneEatz. 

Mehta created the non-profit, EveryoneEatz, to continue the momentum. He brought together a diverse group of community members to lead the organization and to plan for the future. Their motto is: "We rise by helping others."

This team has served over 300,000 meals already to the Dallas community, feeding the hardest hit while distributing PPE and providing free COVID-19 testing. He’s already held 53 events and plans to keep going.

The outreach has earned Mehta and his board proclamations recognizing their charitable efforts from both the Collin County Commissioners Court and the State of Texas.

EveryoneEatz is helping those most afflicted in our community during this crisis. To volunteer, look on the website, www.everyoneeatz.org. To learn more about upcoming events, follow the non-profit's efforts on Facebook and Instagram. For more information call 469-494-9555 or email support@everyoneeats.org

 

Judy Porter is a writer in Dallas and a volunteer with homeless teens. Contact her at: judy-porter@sbcglobal.net

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Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas Club members were very colorful at the 2019 District Conference held in Richardson. Outgoing Club President, Debbie Tull (in yellow on left) was honored last month during the Annual Awards Meeting as the "Altrusan of the Year" for 2019-2020 for her leadership of the Downtown Dallas Club throughout the year. Due to the Coronavirus, this year's banquet was a well-attended ZOOM meeting led by Past President Kristi Francis. The club has helped women and children in Dallas since 1982.

Downtown Dallas Club Honors Members for Thousands of Hours Volunteered to the Community in 2019-2020

The BEST way to find yourself is in Service to Others – Ghandi

“Hats off to Altrusa!” was the theme for this year’s Annual Awards Meeting for the Altrusa International Club of Downtown Dallas, a 38-year old community service club that serves the downtown Dallas community. The club boasts leaders from every sector of the business community, and members have raised over $3 million dollars since its inception in 1982 to fund projects that help non-profits that support women and children in crisis and promotes literacy.

The annual celebration typically has been held at the Lakewood Country Club in east Dallas, but this year was hosted on Zoom with CPA Kristi Francis, a Past President of the club, as Master of Ceremonies. Each club member was asked to dress up by donning a hat or fascinator, and the MC wore her bridal veil which brought smiles to the 50 club members on the Zoom call.

This year’s “Altrusan of the Year,” honor was awarded to outgoing President Debbie Tull. This is the highest honor bestowed by the club’s members. To recognize her hard work all year the club made a $500 donation to the Altrusa International Foundation in Debbie’s name. This “Lamplighter” award is named after Martha Hofmeister, another well-known member of the downtown Dallas Club. Hofmeister has served Altrusa on the local, state/District Nine and International levels for over three decades. Hofmeister is a two-time Past President of the Downtown Dallas Club, and founder and director of Bar None, an all-volunteer Broadway-style musical variety show that features local judges and lawyers making fun of their profession to raise money for minority law students across the state. The show has delighted audiences at SMU for 34 years but is on hiatus this year due to the Coronavirus.

The “Heart of Altrusa” award was created in 1990 and goes to the member who “brings us all together in a spirit of cooperation.” Fund Raising Chair for the past two years and president-elect Naomi Ayala earned the award voted on by all the club members. A senior consultant with Diagio Reserve, she is the current president of the Dallas Professional Bartenders Association and was just appointed to the national board.

Two members of the club received their 30-year pins, Real Estate Attorney Barbara Kennedy of Lakewood and Public Relations Director Judy Porter of Lake Highlands.

The club met the first Tuesday of each month at the City Club on the 69th floor of the Bank of America Building downtown for over three decades but moved last year to the Park Cities Club located on Sherry Lane. Since the recent shut-down, the club has been meeting successfully over Zoom.

The Downtown Dallas Club was recently awarded a $4,000 grant to continue helping people in need in downtown Dallas.

Debbie Tull told the club via e-mail in May: “We are so fortunate to have these funds to support our service projects, thanks to Altrusa International Foundation. These funds are only available because of your generosity and that of Altrusans’ across the globe. Our club has now received $12,000 within one calendar year from the International Foundation.”

Fund Raising Chair Naomi Ayala and committee member Ann Worthy along with 2020-21 President attorney Karen Washington and past presidents Kathaleen Bauer, Judy Porter and Debbie Tull worked together on the grants. The bulk of the funds will be used to continue the club's commitment with Incarnation House, a safe place for homeless teens to go after school to study and eat dinner, and help locally with the Period Project, making feminine supplies available to homeless and low-income women. Even as the Coronavirus stopped on-site volunteering the members of Altrusa funded fresh food boxes to be sent to the homeless students of North Dallas high school whom attend programs at Incarnation House.

The Club members also donate to the Reagan Lorenzen Scholarship Fund, in the name of a former beloved club president, which provides scholarships to first-generation college students graduating from the Irma Rangel Leadership School for Girls located next to Fair Park. Scholarships of $1,000 are awarded to deserving graduates and this year a suitcase was given to each of the 2020 graduates for them to pack for college in style.

Meals on Wheels, Shared Housing, Human Rights Initiative (HRI) and Aberg Literacy are a few of the many non-profits Altrusa of Downtown Dallas pairs up with to make the City of Dallas a better place to work and live.

Members come from a variety of backgrounds and careers and invite anyone interested in serving the Dallas Community to come to a Monthly lunch to learn more. See the club’s website www.altrusadtd.com or the Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas Facebook page for more information, or text 972-880-5571.

Mentoring for new Dallas business leaders will be a focus this year, so if you or someone you know is just starting a business or career, it’s a great time to join Altrusa!

Congratulations to these 2020-21 CLUB OFFICERS

Karen Washington, President: karen@robertswashington.com

Naomi Ayala, President – Elect

Ann Worthy – Vice President Fundraising

Terri Richards Pescatori, Vice President Communications

Carol Kilman, Vice President Membership

Marge Camstra, CPA, Vice President Service

Nicole Leboeuf, Parliamentarian

Suzanne Buss, Secretary

Angela Coronia, CPA, Treasurer

Debbie Tull, Immediate Past President

           

Judy Porter, MBA, is an award-winning volunteer and local writer and Public Relations specialist who promotes locals small businesses, non-profits and individuals.

Contact her at: judy-porter@sbcglobal.net

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Rise Nyren, on left, has been tutoring students for nearly two decades, from 1st grade through college. She attended the graduation of one of her students at SMU last year, in 2019. Her advice to parents can help them be the best Home School Teachers they can be. She's made a list of Top Ten Tips for Home School Teachers she is happy to share.

Home Schooling Parents Take Comfort: Professional Tutor Rise Nyren can Help

Don’t tear your hair out – call for help! This Professional Tutor is ready to RISE to the occasion.

As parents all over America struggle to Home School their children, a veteran of the process can give true hope—and advice—to these new teachers.

Rise Nyren has been professionally tutoring children of all ages for nearly two decades. She is ready to help parents who are stuck inside with their children and desperate for help.

Born in New York, New York, Rise laughs, “I lived there all of six months!” She was raised along with her two sisters Jennifer Potts Nicholson and Julie Potts Hoffman in Southern California mostly, with a detour to Nebraska and to Chicago for one year each.

Growing up, Rise wanted to be an artist and a pediatrician or a veterinarian and was planning to adopt six children and having six of her own. She admits, “By the time I was in high school I had switched to the more practical interest of theater. LOL!”

At Tustin High School in Tustin, California, she was in cross country, on student council, and in the Thespian club. In theater she directed and acted in plays and oversaw costumes for large productions. She remembers, “I loved every aspect of the theater department!”

Few people know she won “Best One-Act Play” while in high school, playing a housewife who lives in a glass house, which closes in around her, representing the expectations of society stifling a person. It almost appears as a metaphor for what is happening today with parents quarantined in their homes and forced to teach their children subjects they know little about.

On the other end of the spectrum, Rise also played “Hot Lips Houlihan” in a production of Mash!

She briefly attended the University of Santa Barbara for a year and a half after high school as a theater major. “But, because I had to work, quit college to figure out a way to do theater, work, and attend college.”

She ended up at the University of North Texas. Rise majored in English literature and history and was nominated for English Undergraduate Student of the Year. She received many scholarships, including: the Ledbetter Scholarship, the Heritage Scholarship, the College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship, and the Department of English scholarship.

She was a member of the Golden Key and Phi Alpha Theta Honor Societies and was on the National Dean’s List and the President’s List.

After college, Rise took part in the ACT Houston at Dallas, an alternative teaching certification program in Dallas. She studied for the middle school generalist certification test offered in 2008, scoring a 280 out of 300.

She’s been a professional tutor since 2003. She understands that now, more than ever, her skills are needed.

She says, “I love tutoring and the difference I can make in children’s lives. It is amazing how much can be accomplished at home by combining different subjects and reinforcing their learning through writing across the curriculum.”

She explains, “My passion is to communicate and to reach out to others. That can mean to interpret literature or history to children, to learn a new language, or to act in a play by August Strindberg. I often teach children, but I love to communicate to everyone.”

Although she works mainly with children, she even helped a student throughout his time at SMU to obtain his college degree.

She raised her daughter, Hannah, as a single mother, and is proud of her. Hannah is a Digital Marketing Manager in Boston and Rise says, “She loves books, also!” In fact, the toughest time in Rise’s life was when she was left alone to raise her little girl. She overcame it with activity: “I threw myself into the kind of mom I’d always wanted to be and took in a few extra children to give them a wholesome, educational environment.”

Rise has lived all over north Dallas. “I lived on historical Swiss Avenue near Lakewood when I first moved to Dallas. I love Lakewood! A great walking neighborhood!” She’s also lived in Carrollton and in Plano in a few neighborhoods: Bunker Hill Estates, The Marquis (condominiums at Park and Preston), Parker Road Estates.

At home, Rise lives with her miniature Dachshund, Sparkle, ten years old, who she says is extremely loyal and friendly. To relax, Rise writes poetry. If she could meet anyone, she says she’d like to like to meet those who have great wisdom: C.S. Lewis, Sir Isaac Newton, Anne Bronte.

Rise hopes in five years, she’ll still be happily teaching and sharing with her students.  And in ten years, “I will be working or retired overseas. Ideally, I will have a combination of both with part-time remote work.”

For today, she is happy to help parents who are going stir crazy with trying to teach their own children. She has a Top Ten Tips list for parents who are teaching their children at home.

Contact her at rise.nyren2@gmail.com

Or text 859-684-0870 for advice or help. Just know that you are not alone – there IS help.

 

Judy Porter, MBA, is a former teacher and a Dallas writer who loves to share stories about local heroes, non-profits and businesses. judy-porter@sbcglobal.net